Thursday, January 12, 2017

Twente Two

On my way to Zwolle. Rain is forecast but I'm itching for another fietstocht. I'm heading for the forests of Twente. I went there exactly one year ago on the third phase of guidebook research. I also cycled the initial stretch -- Zwolle-Dalfsen -- a few years ago but didn't see any of it as it was quite late and I was in a hurry to get to my vriend op de fiets. This time I'll take the LF-16 east along the Overijsselische Vecht as far as Ommen, which is the ominous start point for the Rondje Twente, a three-day jaunt through the eastern region.

I'm leaving it open-ended. Vrienden op de Fiets booked for tonight in Ommen, Monday in Enschede. Like last year it seems difficult to book a friend in between at Ootmarsum or Tubbergen.

(original date of this entry: June 18, 2016)
kp 48 -> 49 -> 45 -> 58
So ... this is good. On the LF16a (east), Zwolle -> Dalfsen. It's a very familiar landscape but no less enchanting for it. Fields of swaying reeds, cows and sheep, cut through by a river, the Vecht. The trail a strip of asphalt through it. Some trees, little black birds darting around, the sky a spectrum of grays filled with clouds, a cool breeze at my tail.

Zwolle to Ommen along the Vecht river

Mostly wide-open countryside. From distances waft the warlike beats of the youth tribes, mid-summer Saturday party vibe. I've got under 20km to my destination, Ommen, where I'm staying with Mevrouw Mudde. No rush at around 5. It's a different experience from my last ride this way, rushing down the highway in the dark. I'm lucky with weather (so far). Wet and misty this morning, some sprinkles in Zwolle, now cool and humid. At kp 8 is a high lookout tower with excellent views over the Vecht river.

'Fish ladder' on the Vecht
The trail continues to skirt the north bank of Vecht--beautiful. Particularly nice stretch from kp 61 -> 63 along a tributary to Vilsteren. Many kinds of fish inhabit the river and a 'fish ladder' has been constructed here to give them a boost when swimming upstream. kp 48 -> 49 is a roadway, fietspad cloaked in forest alongside.

In Ommen, Vriendin op de Fiets Jenni Mudde, a fit 70ish woman, has a little house on Princess Julianastraat. Comfortable, with sitting room, library. Dinner at Grand Cafe Jipp's. Nice maaltijd salade with thin strips of smoked chicken and white wine = €14.

(June 19)
Had breakfast with three walkers: two old men, one of them named John Bekkers, and a middle-aged man, all of whom had lived in New Zealand for nine years. They get together one weekend per year for hiking.

Overcast and quite cool this morning but not raining. I took a little detour off the LF-14 (kp 49 -> 44 -> 50) to enjoy the Besthmenerberg forest. Actually it is more woodsy from kp 50 -> 51 with a lovely dirt trail through cedar and pine woods. Near train tracks. Ommen station is actually south of town. 

kp 51 -> 87 is a terrific cruise through the Besthmenerberg bos. The asphalt trail has a gentle roll. The sun now breaking through, casting tree shade on the path. This continues to kp 88. Practically deserted forest, here and there flanked by old fields. Occasional fietser, racers mostly. It is the perfect tocht for this weather.

-> kp 5
Damp packed sand path threads through pastoral forest, by a bend where horses graze. The 'curtain effect' is at play here: emerging from the forest it's as if a curtain were pulled aside to reveal these pastoral scenes.

-> kp 30 -> 31 -> 32 (LF-14a)
Den Ham
Leaving the forest I enter the bleakness of Den Ham. The route cuts through the village's surroundings. Everything shut, even the Jumbo. Jenni Mudde told me that there was nothing open in Ommen either, it being Sunday. Jenni is a luddite, one of the few remaining vrienden not to list an email address, though she does have wifi. Ommen, she told me, had been a member of the Hanseatic League, the union of Northern European trading nations from the 15th to 19th centuries.

"This is ideal," I think, sitting at the edge of a field of gently rustling trees. 'This' is somewhere east of Daarlerveen, which is just south of Vroomshoop. I don't have far to go so may take my time here. The landscape is people-less, save for the cycling oldsters headed this way, gazing blankly at the dude on the bench as he scribbles and munches cashews. The thing is, I am not part of the demographic that cycles out here. Nor do I fit the rural Dutch landscape, so orderly, only the occasional high-ticket vehicle cruising through it. It's a sort of deep suburbia. When John Bekkers this morning asked me why I'd come to live here, I stated simply, Ik ben fietser, and I think he understood.

De Zandstuve, a patch of forest east of Den Ham, proved inaccessible to fietsers. I took a little walk on one of the many foot trails but didn't go far. Then I came out at the Almelo-De Haandrik canal, a broad waterway alongside the dull community of Vroomshoop (NS station). Momentarily the sun broke through and it was warm. Now it's deserted farmland till the Engbertsdijksveen, a large rectangle of heath that is mentioned in my guidebook: 'een veengebied met heideterreinen en vennen.'  It is a remnant of the great turf swamp that covered northeast Netherlands. In the 15th century the monks begain to 'mine' it.

kp 3 -> 6
"Made to order," I muse crossing a bridge and spying a bench. Suddenly a flurry of cyclists drift by, some offering a greeting, others, like the boy on the rear of a tandem bike, an inquisitive stare. A couple walking a dog, the curly-headed dude manages a guarded greeting. I suppose I look the part of the outcast. My outfit is disheveled: blue sweatpants, blue t-shirt, grayish long-sleeved shirt stained with olive oil over the ensemble. Sporty Ecco sneakers.

Den Ham - Tubbergen via LF-14
Here I am rounding the southwestern corner of Engbertsdijksvenen. But rather than a landscape of heath it skirts a stagnant brook flanked by gnarly old trees all atwitter. Toward kp 6, a superb corridor of forest. Many small birds behind this curtain of greenery: a crowd of wiry trees underlaid by a carpet of ferns.

My recently purchased Canon SX610-HS is capable of making a 'movie digest'--a little impressionistic film that strings a series of shots together. It's as if Stan Brakhage has gone mainstream.

-> kp 7
The splendid ride continues along a brook fringed by reeds waving in the breeze, clusters of wiry birches, then stately oaks, now alongside open fields of grass painted by the sun. There's a commotion on the lily-strewn brook, little ducks squealing and splashing.

kp 10 -> 12 -> 19 -> 20
Confusion coming into Geesteren. The kp 12 sign tells you to cross the road but then leaves you stranded at a new housing development. I go left which turns out to be the wrong way. Lesson: if you're arriving in a town, head for the center -- except certain large towns like Zwolle, which has no fiets signage.

Arriving outside Tubbergen at 5:30pm, I head for the Tubbergerveld, a little heath with small lake, and pull up a tree. Scored a small bottle of wine at the Plus in Geeteren which was open but only for another 20 minutes. It is sunny and breezy, about right.

I like Tubbergen although it is almost eerily quiet. My Vriend op de Fiets is in the center of town, Rosa. She lives in a nice little old house with her retarded son and a very old smelly dog. Rosa is an elected official on the regional water commission.

Tubbergen -> Almelo
(June 20)
Heavy rains forecast so I'm cutting the trip short, heading for the train at Almelo, just 10km from Tubbergen. It's the same journey that I made last year but in reverse. After a false start down a busy road I find the sign for kp 20 and head west out of town, and here I am back at the Tubbergerveld. It is not raining now though overcast and windy. Breakfast at Rosemarie's was typically unhealthful: bread, cheese, cold cuts. Glasses were set out but no juice. No fruit. You could get malnourished living on these breakfasts. Rosemarie was in a hurry. She had to get to her water council meeting. I sat opposite Bart, her son. He could not speak any English and I could not think of anything to say to him in Dutch. The young man is kind and smiley and obliging--when I arrived he showed me where to park my bike at the back--but he seemed uncomfortable in my presence at breakfast. Rosemarie was telling me of her relief work in Benin--something to do with building toilets, and their preference for excreting on the ground. 

Later on I'm hanging like a hobo at the edge of a residential neighborhood in Almelo. It's still not raining but misting. Just some anemic ducks for company. 

Rather than heading straight for Almelo I did a little exploring though it was raining a bit. The route was: kp 20 -> 22 -> 55 -> 56 -> 59 -> 54 -> 52 -> 51 -> 50. This took me through some old estates: Wateregge and Albergerveld. Not spectacular but with some pretty stretches of forest. Coming into Almelo I had a look at the Landgoed Almelo. 

I'd like to continue this route at some future date. Could for example train it back to Almelo or Oldenzaal and pick up the route to Denekamp. 


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